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Things to do in Colombo

Discussion in 'Srilanka' started by FearlessMan, Aug 14, 2016.

  1. FearlessMan

    FearlessMan New Member

    I am going to be on a holiday in Colombo with my wife and three kids.
    I would like to know what I can expect from Colombo and what things there are to do there. I have researched about the place much, so need to create an actual to do list, but it would be great to get some tips and advice from the forum to make the trip perfect.

    Please keep in mind that my kids will be with us on the holiday (kids are aged 10 years, 15 years and 18 years old), some I am hoping that there would be something of their interest as well).

    We have a total stay of 10 days there and we would like to fit a lot in, so do not hesitate to provide us with all the information you have.
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  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello there! Welcome to the forum!

    So first, let's begin with some of the places you can visit in Colombo. Colombo is the capital and the largest city of Sri Lanka. The city has a combination of both traditional and modern attractions. The structures here are mainly of Portuguese, Dutch and British styles of architectures. However, Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic and Indian architectural styles can also be seen in many religious structures here. Here are some of the best attractions in Colombo:

    What To See in Colombo

    • Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple - It was Don Bastian, a famous 19th century shipping merchant, bought a land belonging to the three moors. This is where he built a temple dedicated to the Matara Sri Dharmarama. The unique feature of this temple is that it has a mixture of Sri Lankan, Thai, Indian, and Chinese architectural styles. Aside from being a place of worship for the Buddhists, it's also a learning centre and an orphanage.
    • Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara - This is also simply called as Kelaniya Temple. The temple is believed to have existed since the 500 BCE, when the Buddha hallowed the temple during his third and final visit to the country. It is famous for the reclining Gautama Buddha statue in the temple premises. There are also paintings in the temple depicting the life of the Buddha. There's also an 18-feet stone statue of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara in the temple.
    • St. Lucia's Cathedral - This is where the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Colombo resides. This is also the largest and oldest cathedral in the whole country. It is believed that the cathedral was built during the 1760's by the Oratorian Fathers. On the main altar of the cathedral, you'll find the statue of St. Lucy, holding up her eyes on the palm of her hands. The cathedral also has Anthony Tomas, an enormous bell weighing over 4,300 pounds.
    • Wolvendaal Church - This is also known as the Wolvendaalse Kerk. Wolvendaal means Wolf's Valley, as the Europeans mistook the running jackals around the area for wolves. The church was started building in the year 1749 although it took 8 more years to complete it. In 1757, it was inaugurated by Rev. Matthias Wirmelskirche. This church is one of the oldest Protestant churches in the country and is still in use to this day.
    • Jami Ul Alfar Mosque - This mosque was built in 1909 by the Pettah Muslim Community. You can find it in Pettah, one of the premier and busiest cities of Colombo. It's commonly referred to as the Red Mosque, owing to its contrasting red and white design. The designer and builder of the mosque was HL Saibo Lebbe. The architectural design of the mosque is Indo-Saracenic, a mixture of Indo-Islamic, Gothic, Neo-Classical and Indian styles.
    • Sri Muthumari Amman Temple - You can find this on a hilltop in Kotahena in Colombo. It is over 250 years old already and was built in the year 1864 by Thiruvilanga Nagarathar. The primary deity here is Sri Muthumari Amman but there are also idols of Shiva, Ganesh and Murugan.
    • St. Peter's Church - This church was built in 1821. You can find it next to the Grand Oriental Hotel. It was originally built in the 1700's, but not as a church, but rather as a Dutch Governor's mansion. It was renovated to become a church when the British took control of the area. Since it is near the port, the church served as a chapel mainly for sailors. It's best visited during Sundays as it might be closed on weekdays.
    • St. Andrew’s Scots Kirk - This church was built in the late 19th century by the Scottish tea planters. You won't find much idols or statues inside but the stained glass work here is quite stunning. The church welcomes visitors of any religions, even those without any regions. It's best visited on Sundays as well.
    • Independence Memorial Hall - This is located in the Independence Square in Colombo. It was built to commemorate the independence of Sri Lanka from the British Rulers. The statue of the first Prime Minister of the Sri Lanka, Don Stephen Senanayake, can also be found here. You can also find the Independence Memorial Museum here, where you can see the names and images of the political leaders during the struggle for independence.
    • National Museum - This is the largest museum in the country. The museum was established in the year 1877 by Sir William Henry Gregory. It houses many important artefacts from the different eras of the country. The most famous of which is the crown and throne of the Kandyan Monarchs. There's also a library within the museum, with over 12 million publications in its possession.
    • Colombo Fort - The region where the fort is located is also known as Kolonthola. The fort was built by the Portuguese in the 16th century although it was conquered by the Dutch in 1656. The Dutch also renovated the fort and made it stronger. Inside the fort, there are numerous structures, like the President's House, Gordon Gardens, Queen's House and Old Parliament Building. The fort is in ruins now though as the British destroyed it when they conquered the area.
    • Colombo Light House - This is located on the Galbokka Point, South of Colombo Fort. The present structure was built in 1952, after the older structure was deactivated. The light house offers a panoramic view of the Indian Ocean and has since then become an important attraction of the city.
    Bodies of Water
    • Beira Lake - This is located in the city centre of Colombo. It has about 165 acres of land, 100 years ago. Now though, it only occupies 65 acres due to water pollution and city expansion. It has two parts, connected by a narrow canal. The lake is lined with many warehouses, but most of these warehouses are abandoned now. The government was planning a restoration of the lake because pollution has taken the best out of it.
    • Mount Lavinia Beach - Mount Lavinia is a suburb town in Colombo. Thankfully, the region has escaped most of the industrialisation of the city and has remained untouched by commercialisation. It is well known for the beautiful Mount Lavinia Beach. The beach has golden sands and clear blue waters perfect for swimming or just lounging around.
    • Viharamahadevi Park - This park was named after Queen Viharamahadevi, mother of King Dutugamunu. It is the oldest and largest park in Colombo. The park used to be named Queen Victoria though when the region was ruled by the British. The park has a number of water fountains along with a large Buddha Statue.
    • Galle Face Green - This was established in 1859 by Governor Sir Henry George Ward. Originally, it was used for horse racing, golfing, cricket games and other sports. Because of its seaside location, it is now a famous spot for vendors, tourists, couples and kite flyers.
    • Dehiwala Zoo - This zoo was founded in 1936 and has over 350 species of animals. It was John Hagenbeck who founded the zoo in the late 1920's. However, it was closed during the World War II as the owner of the zoo was a German. It was once again opened to the public after the government acquired the property. Some of the animals that you can see here are the following: Asian elephant, spotted deer, zebra, giraffe and leopard.
    • Weras Ganga Park - This is in the Bellanwila area and was opened just this 2014. The park has stone tiles with some patches of greenery. It's a great picnic area as it's lined withs several eateries as well.
    • Slave Island - This is a suburb town in Colombo. The name came from the slaves in the island under the Dutch and Portuguese rule. Most of the slaves were African and you can still find a few African descendants around the country. The Beira Lake is also located within the Slave Island. Apart from that, you can find hotels and shopping areas within the town.

    Now, let's go to some of the activities that you can do in Colombo:

    What To Do in Colombo
    • Boating in Beira Lake - I've mentioned Beira Lake above and it's also a great place for boating. There are boating facilities within the lake that tourists can take advantage of. For the kids, they would enjoy the Swan Pedal Boat ride.
    • Buy some vegetables and fruits in the Manning Market - For the foodies, the Manning Market is a great place for buying your kitchen necessities like bananas, pineapples, pumpkins and many more. You can find the Manning Market just nearby Pettah.
    • Explore the Pettah Market - This is the most popular market in Colombo, where you can find fruits, vegetables and even clothes. Do visit this place with your kids and enjoy shopping.
    • Watch a snake charmer - You can find them around Colombo, but mostly outside of Viharamahadevi Park. You'd have to give them a tip though after the show.
    • Fly a kite at Galle Face Green - I've mentioned this place above and it's a popular place for kite flying, which I'm sure kids would enjoy.

    I hope this helps.:)
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